Charlotte 500

Just in time for the Sprint Cup, we a look at the Charlotte 500 race.

CraveOnlineby CraveOnline

Motor oil isn’t usually something a car writer looks forward to writing about in a world of super cars and racing events. So, when oil drips its way into a little bit of drama, it’s best to jump on it while it lasts. 

We jump over to the 2011 NASCAR season and the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Of all the things that could’ve had an effect on America’s most popular racing series, recycled motor oil would’ve struck most race fans as a less than likely possibility. The introduction of Valvoline’s NextGen Recycled Motor Oil into the chase would’ve seemed all the less possible if you consider that the new engine formula was injected to NASCAR machines when the season was already underway. 

Imagine how that discussion must’ve gone. You’re the crew chief or the lead mechanic for a multi-million dollar NASCAR racing team competing week in and week out in the Nationwide or Sprint Cup series. You’ve been building, rebuilding, testing and tweaking your elite NASCAR engine non-stop since the previous season wrapped with another Cup Championship for Jimmie “Five Time” Johnson. 

You’ve already got several races under your wheels for the 2011 season. Sprint Cup points are piling up when the company who produces your all-important motor oil ask for a meeting. They tell you they not only want to change the oil in your intricately tuned racing engine mid-season, but they want to substitute it for a new formula derived from recycled oil. 

You might think that’s time to go looking for another oil provider. But that’s not what Roush Fenway Racing and its drivers did. Instead, the team stuck with Valvoline and now finds two of its drivers – Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth – running first and second with only a couple weeks of racing left. 

To tell their own racing story, Valvoline and Roush Fenway Racing gathered journalists at the Charlotte 500 to watch another big step toward the Sprint Cup and to hear NextGen’s role in chasing it down. 

At the racing team’s testing grounds just outside Charlotte, Valvoline chemists and engineers outlined how the new formulation of NextGen combines the top shelf motor oil coming out of the company’s refineries with recycled oil. That reclaimed lubricant goes through such a rigorous filtering and purification process that it comes out cleaner than the new oil entering the mix. 

The resulting motor oil benefits the environment two ways, according to Valvoline. First, recycling oil obviously preserves our existing supply. And, NextGen’s purity burns cleaner than conventional oil 

That’s all well and good, but Roush Fenway isn’t in the job of pleasing Al Gore and the rest of the global warming lunatics. A racing team exists to drive fast and win races. Before asking Roush Fenway to drop NextGen into their cars, Valvoline pushed NextGen through multiple engine tests to prove its reliability. 

The reporters in attendance would see its effectiveness up close that night at Charlotte’s Bank of America 500. While Johnson saw his quest for a sixth Cup take a serious hit when he wrecked during the races final laps, Roush Fenway and Valvoline’s Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag. 

While one Roush Fenway/Valvoline driver celebrated on pit row, teammate Carl Edwards extended his overall Sprint Cup lead at Charlotte and Talladega to 14 points over the next closest contender. That challenger just happens to be Kenseth. 

With Rough Fenway/Valvoline racers running first and second with just four weeks remaining on the NASCAR schedule, it’s a good bet that a recycled motor oil is about to help take home a Sprint Cup. That even would undoubtedly mark the first time high performance racing and the green movement came together to win anything. 

Stay tuned until Homestead.